TThis story needs time: time to bring it up to this point, time for its natural aromas to reach maturity, and time for the most authentic artisan traditions to repeat over and over every single day.
Until they become legends. It’s a story of our time, which began over 500 years ago.
Let’s give it a name: Mezcal, which stems from the union of the words metl and ixcalli, meaning ‘cooked agave’ in the Nahuatl language. This story features the Aztecs
as well as a beautiful deity
the “agave goddess” in the Mexican pantheon who owned a magical plant able to awaken the hearts and minds of humans.
And let’s give this story a place as well, the Cerro Montelobos, the beautiful mountain chain of Oaxaca, in the artisanal heart of Mexico: this is the place of origin of centuries of handicraft secrets, mixed with the mysteries of the earth.
This story also features the agave – the plant from which the Mezcal is distilled – the burning fires of the palenques and the extraordinary skills of the Mézcaleros masters who, with their watchful gazes, protect the authenticity of the centuries-old production. Then, this story needs all the patience of the world: to become perfectly ripe, agaves take 8 to 10 years.
Then it’s all magic: after checking the colour of the leaves and the height of the flower, to reap the agave when it’s rich in sugar,
the harvesting master
cuts the plant’s bud and leaves, and keeps its heart, called the ‘piña’.
It’s then that bonfires begin to appear to roast the piñas, so that they can acquire smoked notes.
If you look closer, the story also features large stone wheels: they slowly turn to crush the piñas so that the juice – aguamiel – can be collected in the palenqueros, which are stone, leather or wood tanks. There fermentation starts, and the process is then finished with the distillation in copper or clay alembics: that’s when master distillers come into play. With great care and wisdom, they watch over every step of this very slow and artisanal process, just like with whisky.
Another unrepeatable magic? Just like there are seven notes but the music you can compose with them is infinite, the same happens with Mezcal. The infinite possibilities with mezcal. Each type of agave, each type of wood used for the cooking, and each minute will have an influence on the smoking process, thus creating herbal, fruity, mineral, or even fleshy hints. But they’ll never be the same. Maybe, after reading this story, you’ll understand the richness of its mysteries.
Maybe while sipping a glass of Montelobos, you’ll be able to imagine all the steps of the strictly artisanal production process. You’ll be able to imagine a field of wonderful agaves with their piñas full of sugars and you’ll be able to perceive its sumptuous and sophisticated aromas:
wood, cooked and smoked green agave, fermentation.
It’s four flavours that create a surprising balance, which makes it different from any other